What is Pleasure?

What is Pleasure?What is it about Adidas sneakers that makes me so happy to wear them? Why does New Zealand’s mountainous landscape bring me so much enjoyment?

These sound like rhetorical questions, but Yale University psychologist Paul Bloom wants answers. In his new book How Pleasure Works, Bloom takes a crack at explaining the nature of pleasure. Considering the complexity of his subject matter, the answer he provides is actually quite simple:

“What matters most is not the world as it appears to our senses. Rather, the enjoyment we get from something derives from what we think that thing is.”

When an art collector is told that his favorite Monet is a fake, it dramatically reduces the amount of pleasure he derives from the painting. Even though all that’s changed is the way that he thinks about that work of art.

At the same time, everyday objects that have historical, sentimental, or symbolic significance can create immense pleasure, even though they are otherwise quite ordinary. It’s the reason why, as Bloom points out, a tape measure owned by John F. Kennedy sold at auction for $48,875.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s familiar with the Lovemarks philosophy. A can of Pepsi wouldn’t be nearly as enjoyable if it was dispensed in a nondescript paper cup. The Pepsi can, and all of the things it evokes (childhood memories, care-free fun, youthful energy), add vast amounts of pleasure to the experience of drinking the soda.

It’s no wonder that, as Bloom observes, “children think milk and apples taste better if they’re taken out from McDonald’s bags.”

I can understand how many people will find this appalling, but it’s a reality, and Paul Bloom’s book gives me a much richer understanding of why that is.

Image source: The Virtual P.T.A.

Don’t miss an article – Subscribe to our RSS feed and join our Continuous Innovation group!

Kevin RobertsKevin Roberts is the CEO worldwide of The Lovemarks Company, Saatchi & Saatchi. For more information on Kevin, please go to www.saatchikevin.com. To see this blog at its original source, please go to www.krconnect.blogspot.com.

Posted in ,

Kevin Roberts




Cultivating food from the air we breathe: How decades-old NASA technology is still delivering disruptive tech today

By Dan Blacharski | June 29, 2021

The “Replicator” machine seen on the “Star Trek: The Next Generation” television series was imagined as a 24th century technology…

Read More

Il Sole 24 Ore and qiibee launch the first book ever made on Blockchain & NFT

By Francesco Pagano | June 23, 2021

The first book in the world made on blockchain, the first ‘decentralized’ discussion on leadership, completely shared and co-created with…

Read More

Leave a Comment